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Turkish police to escort Russian football fans to Lokomotiv-Fenerbahce match

February 16, 16:00 UTC+3 ISTANBUL
Russia's Lokomotiv played an away UEFA Europa League’s match against Besiktas FC in November, when numerous violent clashes of fans with police were reported before and after the match
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© AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

ISTANBUL, February 16. /TASS/. Turkish police will be escorting in Istanbul a bus with about a hundred fans of Lokomotiv Moscow football club, as they arrived in the capital of Turkey for their club’s Europa League away fixture against Fenerbahce FC, a spokesman for the Moscow club told TASS on Tuesday.

Lokomotiv’s first leg match of UEFA Europa League’s Round of 32 against Fenerbahce FC is taking place on Tuesday night at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul. The second leg encounter between both clubs had been scheduled for February 25 in Moscow.

"The bus will set off to the stadium escorted by police," the spokesman said in an interview with TASS. "The bus will be also carrying the club’s security staff, who earlier worked out jointly with the Turkish side measures aimed to prevent unpleasant incidents."

Lokomotiv played an away UEFA Europa League’s match against Besiktas FC in November, when numerous violent clashes of fans with police were reported before and after the match. Turkish police was not reported to escort Russian football fans at that time.

The club earlier reported that that the bus with Lokomotiv FC fans will set off for today’s game from Marriott Asia hotel to the stadium at 4:30 p.m. local time (14:30 GMT). The match is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 p.m. local time (17:00 GMT).

Earlier media reports announced that Russian law enforcers would also be present at the stadium during the match helping their Turkish colleagues in maintaining order at the spectators’ stands.

"The Russian Interior Ministry received a letter from the Turkish law enforcement authorities inviting a group of Russian police experts to Istanbul to assist in maintenance of order and security during the Europa League Round of Last 32 match between Lokomotiv and Fenerbahce," the spokesman said.

"Considering great interest in the match of football fans in both countries we have replied positively to the invitation," the spokesman said, but did not specify the number of Russian policemen going to Istanbul only saying that they were all experts in providing security at events of such scale.

The issue of security during the match between the Russian and Turkish football clubs is in particular focus as relations between the two countries had been recently strained.

However, Vitor Pereira, the head coach of the Turkish club, said on Monday that Fenerbahce FC and Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow FC will play the game of football on Tuesday without thinking of politics.

"I understand nothing in politics," local daily Fanatik quoted Pereira as saying on Monday. "Tomorrow we will be simply playing the game of football. None of the players will be taking into account political aspects."

Relations between Russia and Turkey soured after an F-16 fighter jet from the Turkish Air Force shot down on November 24 a Russian Su-24M bomber, which was on anti-terrorism mission over Syria. Ankara claims the Su-24M bomber violated the Turkish air space in the area of the border with Syria, while Moscow maintains that the Su-24M plane stayed exclusively over the Syrian territory.

On November 28, the Russian president signed a decree on measure to ensure Russia’s national security and protect Russian citizens from criminal and other illegal actions and on the use of special economic measures in respect of Turkey.

The decree introduces visa regime starting January 1, 2016, prohibits charter flights between Russia and Turkey and obliges Russian travel operators against selling travel packages to Turkey. Visa restrictions, however, are not applicable to Turkish citizens, who have temporary sojourn permits or leaves to remain in Russia and those commissioned to work at diplomatic missions.

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